Bringing it Back
2D indie platformers aren’t exactly a dying market. With it being easier than ever to craft a minimalist title reminiscent of the platformers back in the day, many developers have given it their best to create a great and cheap game. Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t impress us very much (apart from a few exceptions like Limbo or Super Meat Boy).
That brings us to Splasher- a 2D indie platformer originally released several months ago, it is now making its way to the Nintendo Switch. Splash Team clearly crafted this out of love, as they to provide another way of looking at a genre that’s already fairly overstuffed. But how does it hold up as an experience? Let’s find out.
Splasher starts out fairly standard. You play as a purple-haired worker at the massive Inkorp. One day, he is doing his job when he stumbles across the business CEO experimenting on some of the other workers. After getting startled, he is discovered and immediately targeted by the various robots of Inkorp.
On top of that, the CEO begins kidnapping all of the workers and holding them around the facility, meaning that it’s your job to not only bring an end to the CEO’s reign of terror, but to save all of your fellow co-workers as well.
If this sounds familiar, it’s exactly the same premise as the first two Oddworld games. It doesn’t need a grand story for the type of game that it is, but I would’ve preferred something that wasn’t paint-by-numbers. That being said, the game doesn’t spend too much time on this and places much more effort into having you play the game rather than listen to it, and that’s a plus in my book.
Splish, Splash, I Was Saving the Staff
After an opening cutscene that lasts around one minute, Splasher immediately thrusts you into the first level. Here is where a lot of 2D indie platformers waste time by carefully instructing you about the controls, but Splasher doesn’t do this. Instead, it shows you through the level how the game works and the mechanics you’re expected to play around with. It’s smart, concise, and says everything it needs to without saying too much.
Right away, it has a very simplistic art style that is reminiscent of the flash games of yore. While the art style remains consistent and I didn’t mind it, it’s not always visually pleasing and doesn’t communicate an image of quality. It will likely turn some people away. On top of that, the environments don’t change in the game, and you’ll consistently be seeing very similar backgrounds and platforms, which make the game feel a little more tedious than it actually is.
Once I began getting the hang of the game, I was given vibes of the aforementioned Super Meat Boy and the classic Fancy Pants Adventures. The reason this was so prevalent is that Splasher is a game focused on momentum. Nothing goes by slowly in this game and you’re always encouraged to keep pushing onward and never stopping (everything from the obstacles and level design to the music leads you in this direction). Because of this, the game is a gold mine for speedrunning to the point where it actually has a mode where you play every level in the game in order with no breaks in between to get the lowest time.
Splasher has 22 levels and each of them contains 7 workers which you need to save for a total of 154 workers. In the early levels, they’re fairly easy to reach, but as the game thrusts you into more difficult levels, you’ll have to jump with perfect timing in order to get everything. It’s also worth noting that the final staff member in each level is locked behind a point wall that you can only break down if you collect all of the ink in each stage, and that includes destroying all enemies and saving all of the other staff. At its core, there’s a lot to do and accomplish in Splasher.
A Perfect Curve
Splasher starts out very simple. You can only jump and are expected to pass the first level that way. Then, as you move through the game, you are given different ink containers that can be accessed by pressing different buttons on the controller.
While, at times, having so many options can be overwhelming and cause you to fumble with the buttons, Splasher does its absolute best at easing you into each addition and carefully crafting each level so that you know when to use each one. Even the hub world gets slowly more challenging to traverse as you progress through the game. It all culminates together in a final level that is, more or less, a big exam of everything you learned while playing. In short, Splasher has a brilliant learning curve.
Right away, Splasher has a very simplistic art style that is reminiscent of the flash games of yore. While the art style remains consistent and I didn’t mind it, it’s not always visually pleasing and doesn’t communicate an image of quality. It will likely turn some people away. On top of that, the environments don’t change in the game, and you’ll consistently be seeing very similar backgrounds and platforms, which make the game feel a little more tedious than it actually is.
Another negative I have with how Splasher progresses is in its controls. Apart from the button placement I mentioned earlier, aiming your ink shot is tied to the same button as moving, and at times, it can become extremely frustrating to hit an enemy or objective. It led to several deaths that I didn’t feel were my fault.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review copy for Splasher was provided by Playdius Games for this Splasher Review.